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14 March 2016


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My SWAG will be that the campaign to clear Idlib Province and recover all of Aleppo City will continue outside the "terms" of the "gentleman's agreement." SAA will probably take Palmyra. The SAS will probably take Tabqa to seal off the oil route west of the lake and the US supported YPG will accept the surrender of Raqqa from the "reformed" rebels. pl

Ken Macaulay

Russia needs partners not puppets.
If they stepped up their involvement and took the lead in cleaning out the rest of the jihadi's then it would be regarded as purely a Russian victory.
Assad would be regarded as a weak leader - one of the major causes of the war - & the Syrian state not taken seriously in any international negotiations.
The Russian's have essentially stalemated the western interventionists - the biggest threat - and seems to have played the major role in turning the Syrian army back into a competent, national fighting force - something they haven't been for several decades.

Hezbollah & the IRGC can be utilised to make up numbers to deal with any new flood of mercenaries coming across the Turkish border, and the Russian's will continue to provide top-notch training - likely turning this into long term, permanent training facilities/programs - keep the sky clear, & supply intelligence & support as needed.

The Russian's always seem to take the long view, and while it looks like a bit of a gamble considering the forces arrayed against Syria, I think this shows their confidence in the Syrian's to deal with it...

PS. it seems very unlikely that the Russian's would trust any kind of deal coming from the west these days. There may be several on the table to give western politicians some selling points and help avoid escalation - but they are not likely to take it particularly seriously in regards to strategic planning or anything that matters..


"I could be wrong" (c)
But I think it's unique Putin's trait to lose already won war. Time and time again.


Winning war means achieving its political objectives. I don't know what wars Putin "lost" and I am not his fanboy, not even close, but I couldn't recall even one.


Just a little correction. "Mudak" is a bit hard to use with affection. That means "idiot" in most obscene sense. Sometimes young people could call themselves that for fun but it's hard to imagine positive connotations for a head of state.


Ken Macauley
"PS. it seems very unlikely that the Russian's would trust any kind of deal coming from the west these days." Trust? Trust? What "world" do you come from? Trust was not mentioned by me. IMO the Russians can take it one step at a time and see if the deal works. pl


Ukraine. I understand school of thought that claims Minsk to be long term victory but I do believe that best way to go in fall 2014 was to push westward for rebels. now it is a festering mess for a foreseeable future.

different clue

Ishmael Zechariah,

I should think the Syrian Kurds will be firmly advised
that their gains should be limited to domestic autonomy within their parts of Syria. They will be firmly advised not to pursue anything that looks like a free-lance "foreign policy" regarding any contacts whatsoever with any Kurds outside of Syria.

What will happen if they reject this firmly-given good advice is beyond me to predict.


My understanding, informed by people like Stephen Cohen, is that the strongest internal opposition to Putin's Syria strategy is NOT from those who wish to soften it (for financial and other reasons) but from those in his inner circle who believe that he has been accommodating of the US. That strikes me as an entirely reasonable reading of the domestic front.

different clue


If the SARgov is indeed reconsolidated in the west and maybe even center of the country, then those Syrian peoples living within the SAR zone of unchallenged control won't be losers. They will be winners in terms of being spared the expulsion or extermination or dhimitude planned for different minority groups there by the ISIS and the alphabet jihadis.

And if the Syrian Kurds get the sort of strictly limited domestic-only autonomy they may feel they have earned by fighting ISIS and not-fighting the SAR, and especially if their autonomous area is contiguous and unbroken and shares a "border" with the SAR government area to its west; then they too will come out relative winners.

The Twisted Genius


I ran with a group of old school hackers mostly from Saint Petersburg and Moscow back in the days of FIDONet. We threw the term "Mudak" around quite liberally both as a term of "endearment" and as a curse. I've been in units here in the US where we through around the term "c#@ksucker" in the same manner. Of course I wouldn't use that term in Putin's presence either in some state function or on the hockey rink.


About the jihadis turning on the non-jihadi opposition: looks like it's already started.



Thanks for the link. And while I think it's probably true that the people of Syria are anti-jihadi and ready to participate in Syrian politics again, reading that article stirred suspicions of it being some sort of propaganda piece. The Russians weren't mentioned at all and the the "legitimate opposition" seemed to be getting too much credibility. So I decided to see who sponsors/funds/guides the Middle East Institute.

MEI Board of Governors http://www.mei.edu/board
MEI Advisory Council http://www.mei.edu/advisory-council

Suggest clicking on the various members above. It looks like a Borg operation to me.


This might have some information, however reliable, on the current state of the Syrian Army's forces reinforcing the idea that Russia is taking the training wheels off. http://www.voltairenet.org/article190703.html

Babak Makkinejad

The statements of Obama to Goldberg: "... Saudi Arabia, Iran must shape cold peace..." indicates to me that the United States and Iran have come to an agreement on the desirability of dividing the Middle East into the Shia Crescent (a.k.a. the Iranian Sphere) and a US sphere.

Leading from behind, Obama is delegating the necessary detailed work to Saudis - they must now define and consolidate their sphere. Saudi Arabia has already begun the process by designating Hezbollah as a Terrorists organization, banning travels to Lebanon etc. and has gotten the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (minus Oman) and the Arab League to go along with that.

Houthi representatives have begun meeting with Saudis - I imagine that some generic agreement to seek an agreement has been reached and Iranians are not going to interfere in it.

On Syria, Putin clearly has achieved what he had wished; he has set the political process in place for SAR to prevail and has the backing of EU and US. He has avoided the "bear trap".

I think the wars of containment of Iran are coming to and end - say in another 5 years.

Babak Makkinejad

Yup; like Malakas (μαλάκας) in Greek!



You are correct. There was no invasion by Turkey and Saudi Arabia. But, the threat of it and Vladimir Putin’s judo move may have negotiated a pause in the Great Game. These are very strange days. Russia is hurting but Europe even more so. Even the dimmest of the western elite have to see that the anger to throw the wealthy bums out is burgeoning. Reopening trade to Eurasia is a good way to get things moving again. Russia is working the Sunni tribes to sign on to the peace accord. In a more rational world, perhaps Russia got the USA to remove the CIA operatives out of Syria and to agree to military coordination.

Babak Makkinejad

I do not think Russians trust Iranian or Syrian governments either; read that the rocket forces of SAR are under control of Russians (lest a trigger-happy or a stupid or a bought officer attacks Israel).

I also would not put it past the Russians to have called Iranians about the ransacking of the Saudi Embassy - causing Ayatollah Khamenei to finally condemn it- after 2-week delay.

But they also have no other alternatives; the Muslims with Brains - to use the apt phrase of Robert Baer - are the Iranians and no one else.

Babak Makkinejad

In my opinion, US and EU are also both losers in that they failed to bring about the destruction of SAR.

And specially EU, now is facing some of the less-consequential artifacts of that war.

Mind you, SAR was always interested in improving her relationship with US, but US was not.

Turkey has also been one of the greatest losers - having squandered once in a half-millennia chance of being and remaining on friendly terms with Russia. And then there are all those trade/truck routes through Syria that are now gone.


The Persian Gulf Arabs - minus Oman - have succeeded in cutting themselves off from the source of their civilization and culture. They also have succeeded in dragging a number of other Muslim governments with them into that civilizational dead-end.

I suppose as long as there is a supply of Englishmen to provide the leadership of their various enterprises as well as an abundant supply of sub-humans Muslims from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh to perform the manual work all is good and dandy.

As for Israel - it is difficult for me to see anything but damage to them as the Shia Crescent is now abutting their Northern and Eastern borders - with their enemies from multiple countries and languages having cooperated on the same battle field for 5 years.
Not to mention their Southern border which is also being threatened by those Arabs who years earlier had received an Iranian Brain-graft.



Maybe he has a lot of native intelligence and is too smart to listen to academic advisers. pl



What is the probability of the Obama administration taking this agreement as an opportunity to disengage from Syria and shift efforts to create some kind of government (acceptable to the borg) in Libya?



Dunno. pl



IMO MEI has always been at the heart of the Borg. pl



Someone here said the Iranians pulled their forces out of Syria couple of weeks ago. I seem to recall that this was pretty shaky reporting. pl


Iran hasn't pulled any forces from Syria, and in fact is scheduled to add 1,500 more Basaji's and IRGC Forces.

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